Improvised weapon ‘designed to kill police officers’ found in Belfast

An improvised weapon that was “designed to kill police officers” has been made safe following a security alert in west Belfast.

The discovery follows a security operation in the Upper Dunmurry Lane area which lasted several days.

Following what the Police Service of Northern Ireland called an “extensive search”, army experts discovered an improvised weapon.

It has now been made safe and removed for forensic examination.

Local Policing Commander Chief Inspector Kellie McMillan said she believed the weapon had been designed to kill or seriously injure police officers.

But she said that where it had been left meant it could have endangered the lives of members of the public.

“Those responsible have shown callous disregard for the local community and the police officers serving that community,” she said.

The threat against the Police Service of Northern Ireland from dissident republicans remains high.

Ronan Kerr
Ronan Kerr

Two police officers, Stephen Carroll and Ronan Kerr, were murdered by dissidents in 2009 and 2011, while Constable Peadar Heffron was left maimed after a bomb was planted under his car in 2010.

In 2017, a police officer was wounded after coming under fire at a petrol station forecourt on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast.

Security alert in the Upper Dunmurry Lane area has ended. ATO have finished examining a suspicious object and declared an improvised weapon. Item has been made safe and taken away for further forensic examinations. Detectives appealling for information on 101 re: 363 10/12/18.

— PSNI (@PoliceServiceNI) December 11, 2018

Ms McMillan also issued her thanks to residents in the area for their patience during what she described as a “protracted security operation”.

“I understand it has caused significant disruption to people in the area, but our main concern throughout the operation was the safety of the community,” she said.

“Responsibility for this incident lies squarely on the reckless individuals who placed this device in a built-up residential area.

“The overwhelming number of people in the community do not want this type of activity and we as a police service will continue to work to bring those responsible before the courts.

“Detectives from Terrorism Investigation Unit have now commenced an investigation into this incident and I am appealing for anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the Upper Dunmurry Lane area in the past number of days to contact detectives on 101 quoting reference 363 10/12/18.”